Find kittens? Here's what to do

May 16, 2023
Two kittens being cared for at Animal Humane Society

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — kitten season!

While the new fur babies are keeping us busy at Animal Humane Society, we wanted to take a moment to share some important reminders about litters you may come across in your community.

Leave the kittens with their mom

First and foremost, remember that a kitten’s best chance of survival is with its mother. If you find a litter of kittens with their mother, resist the urge to move them. If the mother cat isn’t there, she still might be close by! Mama cats likely won’t return to their litters while people stand by.

If you’re able, check on the litter and take notice of how they look. It’s a safe bet that a cozy litter sleeping soundly was recently fed. Give the kittens space and check on them again in a few hours to see if mom has returned or paid another visit.

Bottle Baby

If the kittens look sick, warm them and bring them to AHS

If the kittens look gaunt or sick, there’s a good chance they’ve been abandoned. In this case, ensure the kittens are dry and warm, and then bring them to AHS where they'll receive the lifesaving care they need.

Kittens under four weeks old aren't yet able to regulate their body temperature, so it's important to warm them up if they're chilled, though you'll want to do so gradually. You can start by holding the kittens to your body for warmth, and then transition them to a warm towel or blanket. Before bringing them to AHS, you'll need to schedule a surrender appointment with the Pet Helpline.

You may discover that a kitten (or two) seems unresponsive. You can try rubbing some Karo syrup or sugar water on their gums to raise blood sugar and revive them.

Kitten nursing kit

Only use special kitten formula to feed kittens

If you do attempt to feed any kittens, don’t feed them cow’s milk. Use special kitten formula, available at your local Walmart or Petco (or goat’s milk if formula is unavailable).

You can also purchase a kitten nursing kit for less than $5. Before you feed them, be sure that the kittens are warm. If they’re cold and look hungry, warm up the kitten first or they could face life-threatening complications.

Kitten season can be a busy and overwhelming time for animal shelters. Thanks to our generous donors and dedicated Bottle Baby volunteers, AHS is able to care for thousands of kittens each year. Learn more about what it takes to provide quality care to kittens in need.

Help find a home for healthy strays

Once the mother cat is no longer a source of food for her kittens, you may want to consider bringing them to AHS for veterinary care and adoption! In addition to the many health benefits it provides, sterilization is key in reducing the unwanted pet population. 

Allowing puppies or kittens to roam without spay/neuter surgery can lead to more than 67,000 homeless dogs in six years and more than 11 million homeless cats in nine years! If you'd like to surrender strays to AHS, read more about our surrender process here.

AHS is continually working on reducing the number of unwanted litters in our communities through our Community Cats program. Learn more about the program and what you can do to help.

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